The United States began limiting immigration in 1924. The United States currently has an estimated 11-12 million illegal immigrants living in the country. The United States admits 950,000-1 million legal immigrants each year. Both of those realities have become the centers of political contention. Pro-foreign-life people argue that immigration is vital for America’s society and economy, that the illegals should be granted some kind of legal status (often phrased as a “path to citizenship”), and that the United States has some kind of humanitarian duty to welcome everyone who has been the victim of one of life’s hard knocks. Pro-it’s-our-choice people argue either that the immigrants are a bunch of undesirables from failed societies who will wreak havoc, or that immigration is good, but we need to pick and choose while recognizing that massive immigration will disrupt American society. Various combinations of the two views either make the most sense or are a recipe for disaster.
There are about 7.7 billion people in the world. They live in 195 countries. Gallup polled people in 152 of those countries. They report that 15 percent of adults in those countries, an estimated 750 million people, would migrate to another country if they could. Of that estimated 750 million people, about 158 million people want to move to the United States. Obviously, the real numbers could be much higher. For one thing, many adults have children. For another thing, there are the 43 countries where Gallup did not poll. One can imagine virtually every single person in North Korea or Syria wanting to bolt.
One distortion in the contemporary debate arises from geography. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans bar most foreigners from getting to the United States except by sea (rare) or air travel. You can’t get on an international flight from most places in the world headed for the United States unless you already have a visa. That’s not the case for Central America. People willing to run the risks of traveling the Lawless Roads can end up at the southern border of the United States. Where political stunts by all sides provide something for cameramen to do.
The 2017 population of the United States has been estimated at 325 million people. Can we take in 158 million people from foreign cultures—many of them very different in values from that of the United States—without any impact on American society? If so, at what pace? A million a year? Five million a year? Ten million a year? All of them at once? No? Then the pro-foreign life people accept the idea of immigration restriction. They just want to set the threshold at some undefined higher level. And they don’t want to talk about the social, political, and financial costs.
As for the pro-it’s-our-choice people, there are 158 million people who want to come here, but you think there aren’t any among them who would make a vital contribution to America? Red China wants to take over Taiwan, just like it did Hong Kong. So, many people from a leading Far East industrial nation are going to want to migrate. Russia and Iran are going to add Lebanon to the bag, just like Syria. Lots of Lebanese Christians will want an out.
It’s an important debate. It would be nice if we had it.
 I don’t have a ‘source” for this statement. It’s just my sense of all the stuff I’ve been reading for years. While there may NOT have been “good people on both side” in Charlottesville, there are idiots on both side of this debate. Just hoping that I’m not one of them. No need to tell me if you think I’m an idiot. That’s what my sons are for.
 “Poll Watch,” The Week, 21/28 December 2018, p. 17.